Change in the Community

Davis ’15 looks to affect students through Teach for America, social change
Olivia Davis '15
Thursday, May 21, 2015

Olivia Davis '15 is joining Teach for America in Jackson, Miss.

"I am going to be a woman of color teaching math in Mississippi. It's going to be a wild ride," said Davis, who grew up in New Jersey.

According to Teach for America, the Mississippi Delta is considered one of the program's "high priority" regions, where more teachers are placed to meet the area's greater need.

"I feel that it is the pathway for me to do something that is so challenging, but necessary for me to connect with the community and truly be a part of it. I think it's so important for me to learn from them and realize the wealth that already exists. Learn from the people in the community first," Davis said.

In addition to her passion for teaching and making change to the education system, Davis has been an active advocate and organizer for the Festival of Black Gospel, which began at Cornell in 1977.

The annual festival seeks to "serve as a vehicle for cohesion, uniting people of varying races and creeds" throughout Cornell, Ithaca College, the Ithaca are and the Central New York Region.

"I think that it was a formative part of my experience. Taking on a huge organization that works with Ithaca College and Cornell students. Trying to form a team from basically one person to an actual organization was on my shoulders," Davis said.

"As time went on, I realized the importance of having a community festival especially involving students."

Davis is a resident adviser for Balch Hall and has been a research scholar through Cornell's Office for Academic Diversity Initiatives.

In addition to her academic achievements, Davis has a passion for fashion that drives her on a daily basis.

"I want to merge ideas to create a foundation for the community to own the change it wants to see," she said in regard to her eagerness to empower others through technology, fashion and social movements.